Mark E. Greenlee, 50, Charleston, West Virginia, a former licensed real estate appraiser pleaded guilty in federal court before United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston to aiding and abetting wire fraud.
Greenlee admitted that he prepared a false and fraudulent appraisal in 2006 in furtherance of a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme perpetrated by Deborah L. Joyce and others, in the Stonegate subdivision in Hurricane, Putnam County, West Virginia.
Greenlee admitted that in August 2006, he prepared a residential real estate appraisal for a property known as 62 Stoneridge valuing the property at $645,000, essentially twice the then-current market value. The defendant further admitted to purposefully concealing material information about some of the comparables he used to justify the inflated appraisal price.
To further the scheme, Greenlee admitted that he sent a copy of his appraisal, via e-mail, across state lines to a mortgage broker in Utah, who ultimately provided the appraisal to a lender who funded a loan. In addition, Greenlee admitted that he subsequently altered his appraisal of the 62 Stoneridge property in light of an investigation conducted by the West Virginia Real Estate Appraiser and Licensing Certification Board into the appraisals he prepared for Joyce and others in the Stonegate subdivision.
Greenlee is the second real estate appraiser prosecuted as part of the Stonegate mortgage fraud investigation. In June 2011, James R. Thornton admitted that he also aided and abetted the wired fraud scheme perpetrated by Joyce and others by falsifying the appraisal price for a property known as 45 Spruce Ridge.
Specifically, Thornton admitted that, contrary to industry standards, he included a below-grade basement as “Gross Living Area” thereby allowing him to use comparables that were twice the square footage. He also admitted that he sent a copy of the false and fraudulent appraisal, via e-mail, across state lines to the Utah mortgage broker. Thornton is set to be sentenced on September 29, 2011, for his role in the scheme.
Deborah Joyce was sentenced in April 2011, to 46 months in prison for her role in the scheme, which ultimately resulted in losses to the lenders on six properties of approximately $2 million. Her husband and co-defendant, Todd Joyce, was sentenced to 18 months for his role.
Greenlee faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on December 8, 2011. The ongoing investigation is being handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigative Division. Assistant United States Attorney Thomas C. Ryan is handling the prosecution.
This case was prosecuted as part of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.